black-bottom cupcakes

Before 2003, if you had offered me a black-bottom cupcake, I would’ve raised an eyebrow (actually, both eyebrows — it’s all or nothing with me) and probably refused.  And who could blame me?  The name of these little beauties leaves much to be desired.   But when my friend Lauren  offered  me a black-bottom cupcake long ago (she’s a fantastic baker and cook, and a total inspiration), I couldn’t refuse.  We were roommates, and who knows what she might have done if I had said no? (For the record, probably nothing — she’s way too sweet.)

Little did I know, black-bottom cupcakes are absolutely the best of two worlds: chocolate cake and — wait for it — cheesecake!  Seriously, talk about genius.   They are also a gateway cupcake, and you can now consider yourself warned.

This recipe comes from The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz via my close, personal friend, Smitten Kitchen.  The recipe is really relatively easy (for a stellar and impressive dessert), and requires pretty standard ingredients (vanilla extract,  brown sugar,  white sugar, flour, cream cheese).  The most exotic addition is probably the cocoa, if you consider that  exotic.  Oh, and it includes vinegar, which was a new cake ingredient to me, but never fear — it has absolutely no impact on the taste.

The first step in your black-bottom experience is to  beat the cream cheese, egg, and sugar together until smooth.  I had this going in my stand mixer on a pretty high speed, and it still took me about 3 or 4 minutes of solid mixing before it met my standard of “smoothness.”  You then sift a bunch of dry ingredients together, which was a test of my patience and forearm strength.  I actually had to call Nate in as a reinforcement, as my arm was about to fall off after 10 minutes of sifting.

When it was time to fill the chocolate cupcakes with their cheesecake middles, I followed SK’s advice and piped in the cream cheese using a large ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.  Some reviewers had complained about the cream cheese floating on the top of the cupcake, and it looks like this piping was the perfect solution.

It took the prescribed 25 minutes for these to bake until they had golden tops and were “springy to the touch.”  Nate and I laughed through — er, I mean “watched” — the opening ceremony of the winter Olympics while these cooled, and as the Peter Pan-esque dude flew around the stadium attached to (what appeared to be) very constrictive harnesses, we split one of these cupcakes right down the middle.*

The chocolate of the cake portion is mild, but still pronounced.  It’s definitely not like eating a brownie, and I’m of the opinion that it’s really just a great vehicle for the big glob of cheesecake floating within.  Yowza, what an amazing combination.  Since I’m such a huge fan of the cheesecake component, next time I would actually fill each cupcake mold only 3/4 of the way full and inject the rest with cream cheese (originally, I went for an 80/20 ratio, and the cupcakes were a little heavy on the chocolate cake for me).

Nate and I popped the rest of the cupcakes in the fridge and ate them again chilled.  There’s really no competition — the chilled black-bottom is the way to go.

*I may have given myself a slightly large portion of the cupcake.  Luckily, no photographic proof exists (that I know of).

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